Independents are known for their entrepreneurial flair so initially I thought that Rajan Jhanjee had had a blinding idea to boost profits at his Paradise Stores in Brentwood, Essex.
“I provide a service to put flyers into local newspapers and we also put notices in the windows. I charge £15 for 100 flyers and people pay that quite happily. But then one of my local newspaper suppliers came into the store and said ‘We must be informed in advance. It could lead to potential litigation if things go wrong’.”
Rajan wondered whether he was doing something illegal. “After all, I am merely a conduit for distributing it,” he says.
Now obviously you won’t want to be accepting Black Sabbath ads (unless it really is something to do with Ozzy Ozbourne, then that probably counts as family entertainment these days), but local yoga classes, grass cutting services, Chinese healing well, we’ve all seen them they are pretty inoffensive. But still, they could go wrong. If they do, it turns out the newspaper would be liable.
I did some scouting around for Rajan to see if I could find the definitive answer. The legal team at the Newspaper Society couldn’t comment I have no idea why and neither did they.
The NFRN were mostly at conference, but a week later I got a sensible response from their news affairs bloke David Daniel.
“It could be construed as misrepresentation. The leaflets can be delivered at the same time, but separate. Not as part and parcel of the publication.”
Makes sense when you think about it. So Rajan has two options. He can show the leaflets to the newspaper in advance - although, as he points out, they will probably want a cut. Or he could just put it separately in the shopper’s bag, along with the baked beans and the paper.